OT: Daniel 6:1-28
Chapter 6 abruptly transitions from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar to the reign of Belshazzar. We are given no information to bridge the two reigns. Thus, some questions I had that were left unanswered were, What happened to Nebuchadnezzar? Where do Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego figure into this new king's entourage? Or do they? Belshazzar seems not to be aware of Daniel, although his wife does. So what have Daniel and friends been doing during this time? And for that matter, how has Belshazzar's reign been going? We only see it on its last night.
And on its last night, the king has a feast with articles brought from Nebuchadnezzar's temple, which was a temple to idols (22-23). Thus, God let him know that his reign was about to end by writing in Aramaic on the wall, "Numbered, numbered, weighed, divided," or "mene, mene, tekil, parsin" (25). At the behest of Belshazzar's wife, Daniel was brought before the king to explain the writing. What was confusing to me was that Daniel contrasted the idolatrous Belshazzar with the supposedly faithful Nebuchadnezzar. But it was Nebuchadnezzar's temple from which Belshazzar got the idols. So...it doesn't really seem like Nebuchadnezzar was that faithful to me.
Anyway, at the end of the chapter (and the end of the night), Belshazzar is slain and replaced by Darius the Mede. That means we have the lion's den coming up! One great thing about Daniel is that so far, it has been totally full of accessible stories.
NT: 2 Peter 2:1-22
Today, Peter lights into "false prophets" (1). It's hard to get a clear picture of these people because Peter's description of them is so varied. According to chapter 2, here are some of the things that the false prophets do:
--"secretly introduce destructive heresies" (1)
--"bring the way of truth into disrepute" (2)
--be greedy (3)
--exploit people with made up stories (3)
--"follow the corrupt desire of sinful nature" (10)
--"despise authority" (10)
--be "bold and arrogant" (10)
--"slander celestial beings" (10)
--"blaspheme in matters they do not understand" (12)
--act like "brute beasts, creatures of instinct" (12)
--"carouse in broad daylight...reveling in their pleasures while they feast with" other Christians (13)
--have adulterous eyes (14)
--"never stop sinning" (14)
--"seduce the unstable" (14)
--"are experts in greed" (14)
--"have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam" (15)
--"mouth empty, boastful words appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature" (18)
--"entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error" (18).
--promise people freedom, "while they themselves are slaves of depravity" (19)
Because of the wide variety of the accusations against these false prophets, it is difficult to give a coherent summary of their sin. I would say, though, that the main thrust of Peter's accusations is that they are teaching, by words and by actions, that you can be a Christian and still indulge in the sinful nature. The only accusations that don't specifically fit in with that summary are the one about slandering celestial beings and blaspheming against stuff they don't understand. All the other accusations can fit into that synopsis.
Besides the diatribe against false prophets, the two other themes running through chapter 2 are angels and the Old Testament. Peter makes a few esoteric statements about angels here. In verse 4, he mentions that "God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment." Then, in verse 11, he accuses the false prophets of slandering celestial beings, and maintains that "although they are stronger and more powerful, [angels] do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord." There is a lot that is interesting about this statement, but for me, the main thing was that Peter seems to differentiate between angels and celestial beings. So...if celestial beings are not angels, then what are they? And how can people make slanderous accusations against them? What kind of accusations? I would really like to know more about Peter's thinking on angels.
The other theme is Peter's use of the OT. In his discussion in verses 5-9, he takes a page from Paul's playbook in 1 Corinthians 10:1-10. In these sections, both Paul and Peter use the OT as a warning to NT Christians to avoid immorality. They highlight various evil actions that were committed in the OT, and emphasize God's punishment of those actions, in order to deter NT Christians from taking their morality lightly. Peter also continues this trend when he talks about Balaam in 15-16.
At the end of the chapter, Peter says that it is better to never be a Christian than to know God and then turn back to sin (20-22). That reminds me of a similar idea in Hebrews 10:25-29 about deliberately sinning after receiving knowledge of the truth. There was another similar passage we have read about how bad it is to reject God after knowing the truth, but I can't find it. If you know where it is, please share.
Psalm 119: 113-128
Several verses in today's psalm reminded me of the 2 Peter reading. Mainly, it was the verses like 118-119 and 126-8. Those verses emphasize how wrong-doers will be punished and how the righteous need to stay on God's path.
Two proverbs against chasing fantasies and wanting quick riches.